The Seven Toughest Men in Oregon History – Part 2

The Seven Toughest Men in Oregon History – Part 2

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Lewis and Clark Expedition

In 1803 Thomas Jefferson assigned his personal Secretary, Meriwether Lewis to put together a group of soldiers to explore the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase. 38 Soldiers, and later three civilians one of them a woman and her fifty-five day old child, set out for arguably the most important journey in United States history. Incredibly only one member of the party died, and that was from appendicitis, an incurable disease at that time.

Right off the bat the party was in trouble, as Spanish interests may have been slightly manipulated into putting together forces large enough to ambush and destroy the Lewis and Clark expedition. Luckily the Expedition was traveling much further north then reported so the Spanish were never able to catch up with them, or the history of the United States would be much different. It’s doubtful that Lewis even knew they were being pursued until after the expeditions return.

The trip itself was no party. Men had to push their keel boat and canoes upriver, frequently wading through rough rivers, mud, and sand to do so, or to free the boats from underwater obstacles. They had some translation trouble with the Blackfeet Indians that resulted in two of the Indians dead. By the time they reached the Rocky Mountains the party had resorted to eating dogs that they had traded for and some of their own horses. Through massive amounts of diplomacy, trinkets and trade goods, demonstrations with Lewis’ Air Gun, Goodwill generated by having Sacajawea and her son, Jean Baptiste along, the exoticness of Lewis’ slave York, and fiddling by two of the party members, the expedition was able to bluff it’s way through most potential troubles. Lewis himself was once chased by a bear, as were two of his party members. Every member of the party also dealt with various intestinal issues as their diets dramatically changed within a few days and would consist of only one item for days at a time.

Once over the Rockies they then canoe down the uncharted Columbia River and spend the winter on the Oregon Coast. During this time they constantly fend off thieving Indians from the Clatsop tribe (literally, the Indians would walk into the fort and simply take whatever they wanted,) they subsisted mostly on Elk meat and some fish, they built a fort in the middle of the wilderness and got ready to come back through all the same dangers they faced the first time.

The party maintained fairly good military discipline only having one issue at the start of the trip. After the trip most members of the expedition either became fur trappers, or stayed in the army. Many who did fought in the War of 1812.

Only one expedition member is ever known to come back to Oregon though. Jean Baptiste Charbonneau at the age of 55 most likely contracted pneumonia after falling in the Owyhee River in winter. He is buried near the ghost town of Inskip Station in Mahleur County, Oregon.

Next, #2 – Joseph Meek

Information Responsibility

Information Responsibility

Listening to a rather old episode of the Thomas Jefferson Hour Podcast on the MAX this afternoon, Clay Jenkins who portrays Mr. Jefferson was asked a question “If President Jefferson had an iPod, what would be on it?”

While the question was meant in a “What music would President Jefferson listen too?” Clay immediately started listing off non-MP3 related things. Books, facts, and figures. Pure information, things that could be referenced in conversation. According to Mr. Jenkins, Jefferson considered himself a scientist first, a farmer second, and lastly a patriot thrust into the role by his intellect. I am, of course, paraphrasing there but not by too much.

I began reflecting that into today’s world, nearly everyone has an iPod, or similar technology. A full generation of Americans have grown up with the single greatest source of information at their finger tips. This is something that Jefferson and his scientific and educated contemporaries would have given anything for, if they could even imagined it.

In an age the printing press was still some what of an amazement, books were extremely rare, and Dr. Benjamin Franklin’s public library was still an experiment itself, the Internet as it exists today was simply unimaginable.

Yet this same generation that has grown up with the Internet does not seem to use it to it’s full potential! Of all generations that should know how to, it seems that basic research abilities and critical thinking should be taught at even younger ages then ever before.

But instead of original thinking, plagiarism rules. Or at best unfounded research with no backup and proof.

Is this because of laziness? Is it because the anonymity of the Internet still allows anyone to say anything with little to no criticism, punishment, or recriminations? Is it because the education system, like so many other industries in the United States has not kept up with the technology that is now available? Or is this because the sheer amount of information available in hard to sift through? Or more semi-sinisterly, is it because the information is kept behind digital lock and key only to be doled out to those who know someone or can pay to access it?

I fear that the last reason is more and more becoming the true reason. Everyone is still trying to make a buck on the Internet, and thus information which should be public knowledge is instead kept from the very public that can use it. Couple this with the sheer amount of useless and worse, erroneous information out there and I begin to see why this Generation simply does not take advantage of it. They can’t easily access it!

What is the answer and fix? I really do not know. Other then my own humble attempts to make that information free and provide links to other sites and books that are too, there may not be much I can do. I could go into teaching, but the head aches do not yet seem to be worth the rewards in my mind.